Project File: Building interaction

Kelley Engineering Center at Oregon State University, Cornvallis, Ore., was built in response to the university's desire for a sustainable, state-of-the-art research building that would promote communication and collaboration among faculty and students.

The 153,000-square-foot building, which contains classrooms, administrative and faculty offices, computer labs and research facilities, is organized around a central four-story daylight atrium, which acts as a social space. Sky bridges and hallways, alcoves, glass-walled conference rooms and offices clustered around laboratories encourage interaction among the center's 150 faculty members and 300 graduate students.

Sustainability was a top priority for this project. The architectural team used computational fluid dynamics computer algorithms to configure the building for natural ventilation, a daylight lab to model year-round solar exposure levels and glare, and a sustainability consultant to achieve energy efficiencies.

The central atrium and windowed walls supply almost all classrooms, labs and offices with natural light, cutting costs up to 40 percent. The building has a heat-recovery system that pulls waste heat from the ventilation system, which will save enough costs compared with standard equipment to pay for itself in four years. Rainwater is collected in a 16,500-gallon system and stored to provide water to flush toilets and irrigate the landscape; this reduces water usage by more than 60 percent. Rooftop solar panels produce 2,400 watts that heat water for sinks and showers.

The architect is Yost Grube Hall (Portland, Ore.).

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